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CBI custody for NALCO MD, wife and accomplices

Jiby Kattakayam

— Photo Rajeev Bhatt

In the net:NALCO CMD Abhay Kumar Srivastava (left), his wife Chandni Srivastava, Anita Bajaj being taken by CBI sleuths to the Patiala House Courts in New Delhi on Saturday.

NEW DELHI: The CBI on Saturday told a court here that the Chairman and Managing Director of National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Abhay Kumar Srivastava, who was arrested on Friday, was receiving bribes from bidders and suppliers of the Navratna-grade PSU through his close associate B.L. Bajaj, who acted as a middleman.

Mr. Srivastava appealed before the court not to send him to police custody as he could then be placed under suspension and that it would cause “irreparable damage” to him. He offered to cooperate with the agency by appearing for questioning, even taking a month's leave for the purpose, to pre-empt relegation to police custody. But Special Judge (CBI) O.P. Saini sent Mr. Srivastava and his wife Chandni Srivastava, Mr. Bajaj and his wife Anita Bajaj to CBI custody till March 3.

According to the CBI, the agency received specific information that Mr. Bajaj acted as a middleman for obtaining favours for the Bhatia Group of Companies, which is engaged in the trading of imported and indigenous coal with PSUs such as NALCO, and collected “huge illegal gratification,” which Mr. Srivastava asked to be converted to gold and delivered to him. The CBI submitted in court that Chandni Srivastava operated two lockers at the Bank of Maharashtra, Shahjahan Road, and the Bank of India, Mayur Vihar Phase-I, in the name of Anita Bajaj. Further, the CBI found that Ms. Srivastava had opened the bank accounts using a forged PAN card and voter ID card that had her photograph, but was in Ms. Bajaj's name.

Senior Public Prosecutor Akhilesh stated in court that 10 gold bricks weighing 10 kg, gold jewellery and Rs.9.5 lakh in cash were recovered from one locker. The other locker had Rs.15 lakh, he said, adding that Rs. 5 lakh was recovered from Ms. Srivastava's bag at the time of her arrest at Shahjahan Road. The total valuation of gold recovered has been pegged at Rs.2.13 crore by the CBI. The agency said it had proof that Ms. Bajaj had procured three gold bricks on February 24 from a Noida-based jeweller. The CBI added that following raids at the accused person's residences, documents indicating huge investments in movable and immovable properties were unearthed.Chandni Srivastava came to the defence of her husband and told the judge to excuse Mr. Srivastava from police custody as the bank locker transactions involved Ms. Bajaj and herself and that her husband had nothing to do with it.Taking note of the “high-ranking” post of Mr. Srivastava and the recoveries made by the CBI, Mr. Saini concluded that the charges against the four accused persons were of a serious nature requiring sustained interrogation.

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